On behalf of the Greater Worcester Community Foundation's board of directors, Chair of the Board Gerald M. Gates and President and CEO Ann T. Lisi sent a letter April 27 urging Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg and State Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo to follow through on increased funding for Early Education and Care in fiscal year 2018 state budget proposals. Quality early education and care helps prepare young children for K-12 education and to thrive for a successful academic future.

The letter focuses on the particular needs of the Central Massachusetts community reading “With only 38% of Worcester's children reading at grade level by third grade, it's clear that we have much more work to do. Through its Early Childhood Initiative, the Foundation is devoting significant resources to create conditions that prepare our youngest children to succeed in school and in life - including universal access to quality early education.”

Over the past two years, the Foundation has made early childhood education a priority in its funding initiatives, and is looking forward to working with the legislature on a solution that will benefit the community and future of the Commonwealth's children, but particularly those in Central Massachusetts.

“If you don't have a secure and healthy start in life, everything else is just playing catch up,” said Lisi. “We are invested all that we can through local nonprofits to make our community work for ALL kids. It is our shared public investment, however, that makes the greater difference. We applaud and urge our leaders in state government to follow through on this essential investment in children through budget deliberations.”

Speaker DeLeo has worked with the business community towards reversing that trend over the past two budget cycles. Recently Governor Baker's Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget recommended a $28 Million boost in funding for early education and care. This public investment is an important step to indicate the Commonwealth's concern for its youngest residents and families.